Frederick Douglass has a special place in the magazine. Two September’s ago, George Payne offered Frederick Douglass in Rochester: a gallery of images and words, including Shawn Dunwoody’s mural of Douglass on West Main Street.George’s piece reminded me how much more there is to know about Douglass. The statue of Douglass in Highland Park is familiar, but I didn’t realize the extent to which Douglass aided the underground railroad at Kelsey’s Landing in Maplewood Park.
Recently, through the hard work of the Lower Falls Foundation, Kelsey’s Landing was designated a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Site.
Many of us know Dr. David Anderson who performs as Douglass in many venues, including Kelsey’s Landing. Dr. Anderson once kindly visited the American Literature class I taught at St. John Fisher College wearing his ubiquitous Douglass top hat and dark overcoat costume. In December, Dr. Anderson gained a well deserved honor by being named to Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission.
Since George’s article, I’ve kept my eyes out for Douglass. And he’s everywhere.
My Douglass antennae alert, by chance, I saw his bust in the University of Rochester’s Rush Rhees Library.Then I had a second chance encounter with Douglass. Last winter, we were sledding at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. Afterwards, we went to the Samuel Colgate Memorial Chapel only to discover a bust of Douglass outside the Ambrose Swasey Library. SEE A bust of Frederick Douglass at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
In a third chance encounter, I was at the Frederick Douglass Community Library on South Avenue when I discovered Shawn Dunwoody’s murals of Douglass. That was three Douglass sightings that were all new to me. Incidentally, at the library I met filmmaker Shabaka Mu Asar of Utchat Vision. Shabaka was taking video for a documentary on the Underground Railroad that will highlight Douglass.
Later, I had a different Douglass sighting when I attended Bill Pruitt’s performance Two Kinds of Fear that explores the intersecting lives of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. See Storyteller Bill Pruitt interweaves the lives of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass
The other day I went to Mt. Hope Cemetery to see if Douglass’ grave stone would be covered with snow by the latest storm. On the way, I met Jeff, a young man who admires Douglass for helping free the slaves, is quite familiar with Frederick Douglass Memorial Square and is looking forward to the Bicentennial events.
The grave site only had a thin covering of snow (SEE FEATURED PIC). “Frederick Douglass: 1818 – 1895”